Updated: Jun 25
Bienvenidos a Hobby Chatz!
It’s been a long April for yours truly. Soccer coverage has taken over much of my time but the
hobby never stops and I love to follow its evolution. We will delve into everything Fanatics in a
future column because there is so much to cover in the second edition of Hobby Chatz
Hobby Travels: Jim’s Card Korner in Madison, Wisconsin
I was in Madison last month covering the US Open Cup and, naturally, I had to find a card shop
to explore while I was in town for 24 hours. After a few minutes of googling, I settled on Jim’s
Card Korner and couldn’t have been happier with my decision.
The shop doesn’t look like much from its exterior in the corner of a strip mall on a street that
looks like it's been under construction since the Clinton Administration. But once I stepped
inside, I was in sports-nerd heaven.
The store was covered ground-to-ceiling with framed jerseys, pennants, pictures and everything
a hobby shop could want. My personal favorite part of the shop: the massive collection of
Madison Mallards bobbleheads. I saw a few Pete Alonso ones in there, Mets fans.
One thing I enjoy looking at in shops is the book selection because you always see something
new. I managed to resist buying a media guide from some Wisconsin team that had names in it
that made me smile. There was also a biography on a Packers player that I’d never heard of
and I imagine that item was never sold outside of the state of Wisconsin.
I left with a Jose Abreu 2014 1st Bowman Paper (I’m still in denial that he now plays for
Houston) and four packs of 2023 Topps Series 1. The big hit from the packs? A Lenyn Sosa
Vintage Stock Parallel Rookie /99.
NFL Draft Conundrums
I don’t know about y’all, but I still crave the opportunity to buy a blaster box for $19.99. It’s not
2019 anymore and most blasters are at least $24.99 now, so that pretty much leaves me with
the Sage Low Series products.
I’m curious how everyone else feels because I generally like these products. I’m not someone
who can afford to regularly spend money on a hobby box, so these smaller boxes give me my
fix while also giving me the consolation of guaranteed autographs.
I’ll take the instant gratification of pulling autographs at $19.99 more often than not.
To hold or to sell?
What should I do with that Lenyn Sosa rookie /99 that I pulled in Madison? As when I wrote this
piece, Sosa is hitting just .140 and has already been sent down and recalled. At just 23, he has
a chance to be a regular for the 2023 White Sox. He should get better. I just don’t trust this team
and have no clue how to value Sosa. All I know is the last time the White Sox gave up early on
a guy named Sosa, he ended up being a pretty decent ballplayer regardless of PED’s.
Purchase for the future:
The Jose Abreu 2014 1st Bowman. I didn’t do much shopping in April.
Product I think I like: 2022-23 Topps UEFA Club Competitions
I was incredibly skeptical of this product when I saw the initial announcement that Topps would
be utilizing all UEFA men’s club competitions in their 2023 set, but the checklist proved that this
product has great value for soccer collectors.
I assumed that this product was going to be filled with mediocre players from worse teams that
barely qualified for the UEFA Europa Conference League. I was so wrong. Instead of doing that,
Topps has just selected the most high-profile players and clubs from all three tournaments,
creating a very solid set.
While the odds aren’t necessarily in your favor, the autograph selection is great. Lionel Messi,
Erling Haaland, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski are all autograph subjects. Who
doesn’t want a chance at one of those?
Product I’m not a fan of: 2022-23 Topps UEFA Club Competitions 1st Edition
Last month, I established that I am not a fan of any Topps 1st Edition products at this point. This
product has a similar base selection as the regular version of the product but lacks the volume
of attractive autograph subjects, if you’re lucky enough to pull an autograph card despite the
Yes, there is a chance for a Messi, Haaland or Neymar autograph. But the odds are so much
lower than the regular version of the product that you should just buy that and give yourself a
chance at a Gio Reyna autograph.
Random Memorabilia Item of the Month
My buddy got me (I paid for it, though, so “got” doesn’t feel right) a 2023 Master’s hat. I’ve
always wanted to go to Augusta and I am a sucker for memorabilia that marks a specific year of
a premier event.
Guest Time: Connor Groel
One of the hardest things that a sports researcher has to do is find information that will translate
into interesting content. That’s something this month’s guest, Connor Groel, is great at. Connor
is a researcher at CBS Sports HQ, where he also did Bracketology work on the 2023 Women’s
NCAA basketball tournament. We went to grad school together and I’ve always enjoyed the
intellectual curiosity and positivity that Connor brings to a discussion.
How did you get into collecting?
Well, Joe, I don’t really see myself as the type of person who is a “collector” per se. However,
I’ve got some things I think are cool from being around sports my entire life.
Favorite collectible you own:
I’ve got a Kevin Durant bobblehead from when he was at the University of Texas.
Joe, I told you I’m not really into collecting cards.
Best Stadium in America:
I’ve had some really fun times at the Toyota Center in Houston for Rockets games, so that’s
probably it. NRG Stadium was a special venue for the 2016 Final Four, too.
Best Jockey in the World:
Follow Connor on Twitter here and check out his books here.
Made it all the way here? Have any questions? Feedback? I’d love to have a mailbag portion of
this column. Email them to me at email@example.com with the subject ‘Hobby Chatz’.
‘Til next time.